Saturday, April 30, 2011

Blavet: Sonatas for flute and continuo Op.2 (Sonates mêlées de pièces) (Guimond/Manson/Toll)

Michel Blavet (1700-1768) 是十八世紀法國最知名的長笛家,更是聲名遠播至整個歐洲。普魯士帝國的國王Frederick the Great(腓特烈大帝)在還是王儲時曾經企圖延攬他被拒絕,而德國有名的長笛家和作曲家Quantz在和他相遇之後,更說Blavet是他最欽佩的長笛家。

生於法國東邊的Besançon城,Blavet的父親是個手藝很好的木工車工(wood turner),而Blavet從小就在父親的工場裡自製他的長笛。Blavet應該是天資聰穎,因為驚人的是,他沒拜過師,完全是無師自通的!也因為這樣,他吹長笛的方式是在左邊,和大部份擺在右邊的音樂家是相反的。

他於1723跟隨侯爵Charles-Eugène Lévis到巴黎,但後來因為Charles-Eugène Lévis沒錢了,所以換了新顧主Carignan王子Victor Amadeus,以及後來的Clermont伯爵。在巴黎音樂界裡,他時常出現在公眾音樂會系列的「聖靈音樂會」(Concert Spirituel)中,甚至是表演次數最多的音樂家。由於這些音樂會聽眾廣大,不侷限於皇宮裡的貴族,所以更成功地打響了他的知名度。他於1736年左右,先後又成為國王專屬音樂家(ordinaire de la musique de la chambre du roi),再來是王后的專屬音樂家,然後還是歌劇樂團的成員。他當時在巴黎的音樂界的地位,可真是無可動搖的。

Blavet以他技巧,音準,音色,更以細膩的音樂性聞名歐洲,成了當時長笛演奏者的黃金標準。聽過他表演而公開稱讚他的音樂家和文人不在少數。Blavet也和許多當時一流的音樂家合作過,像Telemann第二度到巴黎時所寫的Paris Quartet的首演中,長笛的部份當然就是Blavet演奏的。Boismortier作品九十一的長笛與大鍵琴的奏鳴曲,也是獻給他的。而Leclair為一流的小提琴家,寫了許多長笛的曲子,據說也是因為長期和Blavet合作而寫給他的。

Blavet所寫的曲子並不多。除了四齣歌劇,他還留下了三部作品,一首協奏曲,還有一些改編的曲子,全是為了長笛所寫。三部作品中,作品一是給兩支無伴奏的長笛奏鳴曲,而作品二和三是給長笛還有數字低音的奏鳴曲。這張錄音裡的,正是作品二的這六首奏鳴曲,有標題  Sonates mêlées de pièces。為什麼叫mêlée,其實我也不清楚,因為這字有「混戰」之意。我在猜想,因為這些奏鳴曲結合了法國和義大利音樂的元素,所以代表著同首奏鳴曲裡,二國曲風短兵相接的情形吧。

如同十八世紀中法國作曲家開始轉寫義式風的音樂,Blavet的這些音樂拋棄了法國組曲的矜持,大喇喇直接用「奏鳴曲」一詞。每首奏鳴曲的樂章數不均,四到六之間。樂章本身也是法義合併,有常見的義大利速度用語(allegro, adagio, ...),但有舞曲節奏也會有該名稱(gavotte, sarabande,....),並加上character piece的標題(L'Henriette, La Vibray,... )。這些法文標題是指誰,今天似乎也多不可考。真的看到Mêlée「混戰」的情形,就是同樣的曲式,一回用法文拼法(rondeau, gavotte..),一下子又選擇用義大利拼法(rondo, gavotta, ...),還真不知要接受哪個咧。當然,法義曲風的結合,並不單單只在表面的標題上。單純的義大利標題,也逃不過法式的附點節奏和多樣的裝飾音。

最後,Blavet似乎為了施行對後輩教誨的目的,在譜上還不厭其煩,在每個地方標示哪個地方演奏者應該要換氣。他在曾說過:「初學者在正確的地方換氣上的困難,在於要樂句和樂句之間要有適當的間斷,而優美如歌的一句,須一口氣吹完。」也因為這樣,這些奏鳴曲的難度並不特別高,因為Blavet寫的對象,正是初學的長笛音樂家。

這張錄音中長笛一角,是由加拿大的Claire Guimond用巴洛克長笛吹奏。伴奏群則是由Jonathan Manson拉古中提琴,以及已逝的John Toll彈大鍵琴。John Toll之前和Andrew Manze以及Nigel North共組Romanesca,推出不少優秀的錄音。這張應該當是John Toll最後錄的CD之一。Guimond的木頭長笛音色陰沉柔和,音準精確,選擇較為圓順放鬆的演奏風格,製造出悠閒高雅的氣氛。Manson和Toll的伴奏也很輕巧,不會過份搶戲,Toll偶爾還會將大鍵琴換上lute stop,模擬出魯特琴或是theorbo的撥絃效果。這是一個各方面拿捏恰到好處的一個表演,快樂章輕快中不顯急促,慢樂章冥想中不顯睏盹,大小聲的變化還有節奏上的彈性也不會覺得超過,聽了之後身心極舒服。

Michel Blavet was the most distinguished French flautist of the 18th century.  Born in Besançon, son of a wood turner, he was completely self-taught on the flute, quite an achievement I say.  He arrived Paris in 1723, where he was under patronage of several royalty, the last being Count de Clermont.  Besides that, he quick established himself in the Parisian music scene, being the most frequent performer of the Concert Spirituel series.  Since the audiences came from all walks of life and not limited to royalty or the super wealthy, this might have promoted his reputation even further.  Starting around 1736, he became ordinaire de la musique de la chambre du roi (chamber musician to the king), then of the queen, and even later first flautist at the Opera.  Safe to say, his position as one of the leading performers of Paris was unrivaled.   

Blavet's fame was no fluke, and was he certainly was not overrated.  Frederick the Great tried in vain to employ him in his court, and his own great flautist Quantz said after an encounter that Blavet was the "most admirable" flautist he has ever met.  The list of people who spoke of admiration goes on and on, including musicians Telemann, Marpurg, Daquin, etc...   but also included great thinker Voltaire.  He performed in the premiere of Telemann's Paris Quartets.   Lelciar's works for flute were purportedly written for Blavet, whom often performed with.  Boismortier's set of 6 sonatas for flute and obliggato harpsichord is also dedicated to Blavet.

Blavet did not compose many works.  Aside from his 4 operas, the remaining instrumental works include only 3 published opuses, one flute concerto, and some arrangements of pieces by other composers.  The pieces on this recording are his Op.2 sonatas for flute and continuo, titled "Sonates mêlées de pièces."  I suspect that the use of the term "mêlée" probably refers to synthesis and "close encounter" of the French and Italian styles in each sonata, the goûts réunis trend started by Francois Couperin.  In addition to the Italian tempo indication (adagio, allegro), movements with dance rhythms are also specified (sarabande, gavotte).  Certain movements also have character title pieces, references which probably have less significance.   Another "mêlée"-like feature is the alternating French and Italian spelling of the same forms (gavotte - gavotta, rondeau - rondo).  However, synthesis of styles goes beyond the superficial naming of pieces.  Slow adagios, for examples,  are filled with French dotted rhythms and densely ornamented.   

Despite being a flute virtuoso, Blavet's works are not technically demanding.  In fact, he wrote these pieces for amateurs in mind.  In these sonatas for example, he carefully indicates on the score where to breathe.  He noted that the skilled flautist should never "confound one phrase with another, or interrupt a singing passage which must be completed in one breath." Indeed, his pedagogical intentions are admirable.

Canadian Baroque flautist Claire Guimond is supported by Jonathan Manson on the gamba and the late John Toll on the harpsichord.  Most will have seen John Toll's name in the Andrew Manze recordings, being a member of the group Romanesca.  This might have been Toll's last recordings before he passed away in 2001.  Guimond's flute has a dark but round tone.  Her intonation is clear, and she adopts a smooth musical line and relaxed feel, evoking delicateness and elegance in the French idiom.  The continuo group is light but adequate, and Toll's occasional use of the lute stop adds to variety in the sound.  Overall, I found this recording to be good.  Fast movements are lively without being rushed, slower sections are meditative but not groggy, contrasts in dynamics and phrasing are present but never over the top.  It's French flute music as I envisioned it to be.   








7 comments:

Mingus said...

Blavet 的長笛樂,真的非常動聽。不過演奏者要有些靈氣與樂句phrasing 的精美彈性。手邊有個有田正廣與 Wieland Kuijken 的錄音,纖細有餘,華麗自由就少了些,有點 uptight。

如之前說的,笛子,尤其巴洛克,木的比起金屬的來的讓我有感覺。低沉冥思的質感,特別適合晚上聽。

您會愛屋及烏,也聽 Quantz 與 CPE的長笛樂嗎?

是否推薦 Brilliant Classics的 Wentz 版?有些想試試看....

Deadlockcp said...

BC Wentz 版我也有。他的長笛聲比較亮,而且伴奏的Borgstede的大鍵琴聲音比較重,敲擊效果顯著,一部份雖然是錄音的比重問題,但另一方面也是風格啦,整體是個比較陽光外向的表演。和手邊Guimond這張的感覺不同,但也並無不妥,所以也會推薦。

Quantz的偶爾會聽一下,但他許多長笛奏鳴曲相似度有點高。CPE Bach的,只聽過線上的錄音和同學表演,一直沒有機會買到好的錄音。我一直想要買WQ 83-87 的奏鳴曲。有推薦的嗎?

John Hendron said...

It's eerie seeing so many of the recordings I own pop-up on your site! I appreciate you going into historical detail with the recordings, with respect to the composers, etc.

I encountered the Blavet concerto in high school; a friend of mine was mastering it in her flute lessons. Having later collected it by MAK on their French Baroque Concertos CD, I saw Claire's recording and picked it up.

The reading here is good but I stretched myself to remember what this recording sounded like... it's not the most impressionable music. I couldn't recognize it from Hotteterre... which either says Blavet is bland, or else I'm a horrible connoisseur of French baroque music.

This is perfect music to put on the iPod when visiting a museum's gallery focused on French paintings.

Deadlockcp said...

Hehe, I hear yah...

The Blavet concerto is some virtuosic piece. This disc has been neglected by me for quite some time, but then I put it back on recently and really liked it, more so than before. Probably won't be able to sing these tunes in my head.

There is another recording by Jed Wentz on Brilliant Classics. The flute is brighter, and overall a more extroverted approach, supported by good percussive continuo playing from Borgstede. Maybe that *might* capture your attention slightly more ?

John Hendron said...

Difficult to compare, but I have enjoyed Wentz in other recordings, including with MAK in their Tafelmusik by Telemann. In listening again to Guimond, there are some pieces that actually remind me of the more famous A-minor concerto, but others almost a little too simple.

I have more of an issue with the music by Blavet than Guidmond & Co. performance.

Mingus said...

CPE 的長笛協奏曲收的比奏鳴曲WQ 83-87 多了些,一來後者錄音不多,全集更少,二來這些柏林時期的曲子較為保守。

Naxos 的版技巧不差,樂器與 performance style 稍現代了些。

好像有MDG 的舊版,可惜應該沒有WQ 83-87,用的是baroque transverse flute,Hünteler, Bylsma, Jacques Ogg 的組合,不過遍尋不至。

Deadlockcp said...

嗯,我之前就留意過Naxos那張,但近來真的跟modern performance有點距離了。

對了,CPE的長笛協奏曲是高中時買過modern版的。那個時候聽的時候就相當震憾,也是讓我開始欣賞CPE的音樂。說不定該是買古樂版的時候了 ^_^

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